On All Saints Day, think of you and me and all of us who believe and struggle to grow in our faith.
November 1st is All Saints Day and every time it comes up on the calendar I start grumbling about how I certainly am no saint, and I wish I were a more saintly person but geez, my faults always seem to crowd out any attributes that would give me status for sainthood.
I have to remind myself–or get reminded by some remarkably astute preacher–that the word “saint” as it appears in the Bible is not quite the way it is more often used today. A saint is just someone who believes in Jesus.
Paul in his letters often greets those he’s writing to, right at the beginning, as “saints,” as in the letter to the Ephesians, “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” He doesn’t use it to single out anyone in particular. It’s the nomenclature for everyone.
That’s us. You and me and all of those who believe and struggle to grow in our faith.
I find it very helpful when I look in the Bible at the actual behavior of those who have been dubbed as saints.
Take Saint Peter. He seems to be getting it wrong all the time. You don’t doubt his love for Jesus, but he fails time and again, even denying Jesus three times before the Crucifixion, denying that he even knows Him.
Or there’s the occasion when he sees Jesus walking on waters of Galilee and wants to follow Him. “Don’t be afraid,” Jesus says, and Peter steps out in the boat in faith. He actually walks on water for a few steps, then becomes frightened and he sinks.
For one brief moment Peter did something truly astounding. He was just like Jesus. Until he floundered in fear and had to be rescued.
Fear gets in the way of my faith all the time. I think I’m ready to step out of the boat, like Peter, and take on all sorts of bold and challenging projects. I step out in faith–to use a phrase.
Then I get scared. Here’s when I have to shout just like Peter, “Lord, rescue me!”
That’s what I think it means to be a saint, in Biblical terms. To believe, to aim high, to be ready at all times to step out, to fail maybe, but then to shout at the top of our lungs, “Lord, rescue us.” To not let fear get in our way.
So let’s consider November 1st, All Saints Day, our day. We can take all that Halloween candy left over from the night before and have a big celebration.
Just call me “Saint Rick.” I’ll try to remember to answer.